By Brian Benefield
[Brian does the Courier’s Second Helpings series about food and eating in Cobb County, and also reports on other topics, usually focused on Marietta and Marietta Square]
I’m not particularly eager to use the overused cliche hidden gem, but the Marietta Theatre Company is that in the true sense of the phrase. Tucked away behind the Marietta Wine Market, you amble down a few hallways to enter the small but mighty theatre. There are many smiling folks to greet you in the reception area with a concessions stand selling candy, popcorn, and, luckily for us, beer and wine as well. As you pull back the curtain and walk across the stage area to get to your seat, you get a sense that this is going to be a fully immersive experience. And it is.
I talked to one of the founders of Marietta Theatre Company, Blaine Clotfelter, who told me their first production in the intimate space was in 2017, titled Forever Plaid. Clotfelter is a MAT (Metropolitan Atlanta Theatre) award-nominated Director and a third-generation Mariettian. Blaine said his Mom got him on stage at only 11 years old because he talked a lot and has been hooked ever since. In true nomadic fashion, he said that the theatre company doesn’t rehearse in the space where the stage plays are performed, and they build all their own sets to prove that these performances are a bonafide labor of love. Blaine’s father, Mike, has spent countless hours constructing and designing the sets, and they are very grateful for all his and all the other volunteers’ hard work. Mike has had such a positive influence they created an award in his honor to bestow on a volunteer who exceeds the call to help MTC each year. According to Clotfelter, they have open auditions for every performance, and every actor is compensated for their work.
With only fifty-two seats, the feel of this playhouse is very much off-broadway. It is an extraordinary experience to be only several feet from the actors and see every movement, every facial expression, and intricate details of the thespian’s costume and props. We are fortunate in Marietta to have several theatres to choose from at the square and surrounding area, but none are quite like this one. Buying season tickets is the best option because you essentially get five plays for the price of four, and they have some great shows in 2023, including the Broadway hit Head Over Heels. And I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change.
Blaine told me, “I want our patrons to experience life with strangers and inevitably become friends.” That is an accurate statement because we have met many people at the theatre and look forward to seeing the same folks at the next performance. During the pandemic, they had to shut down for some time, but in early 2021 put on a show that sold out almost immediately and received a Federal grant that helped keep them afloat. That really demonstrates how vital live theatre is to our community and how badly it was missed. If you are feeling philanthropic and wish to donate, MTC is a 501(c)(3) organization, so your contributions are tax-deductible.
Being diverse with the type of productions is something I really enjoy and keeps the audience coming back for more. Recently we saw Clue: on Stage, based on the movie, based on the whodunnit board game, and it was a guessing game from beginning to end. The Great American Trailer Park Musical is utterly hilarious; think Dukes of Hazzard meets Beverly Hillbillys. We have been MTC subscription season ticket holders for several years and are at a point in life where we don’t need any more stuff in our house, so we gift ourselves experiences instead. Consider this a gift idea for a theatre lover in your life, and they will thank you each time they see a show at Marietta Theatre Company.
Visit the theatre’s website at https://mariettatheatre.com/